When it comes to organising events, we Europeans have a habit of doing a pretty good job and nothing could emulate that more than the European Championships taking place in Munich this August. Hold on, did you say the European Championship? Isn’t that the football tournament held every four years by UEFA? No, and when it comes to a suitable name yes, the organisers probably could have been a bit more original, but this is the multi-sport tournament that brings together the existing European Championships of some of the continent’s leading sports every four years and so far, it’s been a resounding success.
The concept is the brainchild of two people – Paul Bristow and Marc Joerg and is now in its second tournament after its first incarnation in 2018. Back in 2018, the Athletics Championships were held in Berlin, while Glasgow hosted the Aquatics, Cycling, Gymnastics, Rowing and Triathlon and a European Golf Team Championships.
This year, the host was one city and Munich has been more than up to the task. New sports have been added in the form of Sports Climbing, Table Tennis, Beach Volleyball and Canoeing. Golf is gone, but given the crisis in that sport involving a rival championship funded by Saudi money, it’s probably not too big of a loss.
As expected, the athletics championship has been a huge success with multiple medals going to countries across the continent. The competition has been top class with national in-European records broken across the various disciplines. The real success story has been the Sport Climbing with large crowds gathering each day outside the 19th century Königsplatz which is proving a superb backdrop.
The real key to the success story is not really the results or even the superstars. It’s been the amount of sports taking part. We do all love the Olympics and there is no doubt that both the winter and summer tournaments still draw big crowds, but one always asks the question. Do the Olympics have too many sports? You spend four weeks trying to keep up with it all and then at the end of it, it’s the athletics tournament that still draws the big bucks. There is also the question of TV rights and it is no secret that as each tournament comes around every four years, the balance between free to air and paywall in the Olympics is gathering pace in favour of pay per view. In the Summer Olympics in Japan, the principal broadcaster in Europe was Eurosport while in the US it was The Discovery Channel. Both were pay per view. Then there is also the overall cost of the Olympics and with it entering into billions, the choices for venues are becoming more limited each time. Once the Olympic host city was picked on merit but now it is only becoming suitable for super cities and cash rich micro countries with dubious levels of democracy and freedom.
With the European Championships, The European Broadcasting Union is a key partner in the tournament and is broadcasting across Europe’s free to air channels, radio and web via its already established Eurovision Network hardware. That’s an estimated audience of over 1.03 billion and is a welcome bonus for European state broadcasters who are struggling to compete with pay per view for high quality international sports.
For 2026, the event will take place in August of that year and the host city has yet to be announced but whoever is chosen, they will no doubt benefit immensely from a tournament that is attractive not only from a financial point of view but as a cultural and sporting one as well.
Featured image is creative commons licence.